LIMA — Three finalists for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce Non-Profit of the Year Award are doing good in the community.
The finalists this year are Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs, Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and West Ohio Food Bank. The award is sponsored by Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships.
The award winner will be announced at the annual gala May 7 at UNOH Event Center.
Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs “provides opportunities for people to reach their highest potential by providing stepping stones to success,” LACCA CEO Jackie Fox said. “We open paths to self-sufficiency and empowerment for individuals and families to enhance our community.”
The social service agency has 112 employees and 1,300 volunteers working at 13 locations. LACCA was founded as a private, non-profit agency in 1993. LACCA was named the county’s community action agency in 1994, and the agency is celebrating its 20th anniversary. LACCA now has a $6.8 million operating budget and administers 16 programs, including two outside Allen County.
LACCA helps clients with energy, homeowner and down payment assistance, employment skills, fair housing, Head Start and Early Head Start, homeless prevention, prescription assistance, fatherhood mentoring and Kindergarten Kamp. The agency prides itself on hiring a diverse staff and serving a diverse community, providing leadership opportunities and collaborating with other agencies and organizations.
Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen seeks “to be the hands and feet of God, providing food to the hungry, clothing for the needy, a place of rest and comfort for the weary and fellowship for all, within a Christian atmosphere,” Executive Director Stephen Jenkins said.
The soup kitchen has two employees and countless volunteers who gave more than 18,000 hours in meal preparation, serving and cleanup. Formed in 1991, the kitchen provides a daily meal to people. In 2013, the soup kitchen supplied 39,000 meals, averaging about 3,200 a month, Jenkins said. The agency spent just more than $2,000 on food all year, because of in-kind donations.
The agency has new partnerships, such as working with Lima Rescue Mission and Celebrate Recovery. It works with Allen County Public Health, Lima Senior High School and Transition Lima on a vegetable garden. The agency also made capital improvements in 2013, including adding a generator to maintain the walk-in cooler, freezer and building and building a storage loft for frequently needed items.
West Ohio Food Bank CEO Gary Bright believes “everyone should have access to healthy, nutritious food,” he said. “Together, with our partners, we provide nutritious food to those in need.”
The food bank was incorporated in 2001 and serves 11 counties from its warehouse and distribution center in Lima with 21 employees. The food bank collects donated food and distributes it to soup kitchens, pantries and shelters. It is provided to people who are “food insecure,” meaning they have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
As an affiliate of Feeding America, the food bank receives loads of donated product from sources such as Walmart and Kroger, as well as other sources such as canned food drives. The agency takes inventory of the food and makes it available to pantries, kitchens and shelters in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert and Wyandot counties. By partnering with those 77 groups, the food bank provided more than 2.1 million meals in 2013 and also runs several direct programs, such as the new Mobile Produce Market bus.
The other nominees this year for the award were ArtSpace Lima, Bittersweet at Betty’s Farm, Celebrate Recovery, Coleman Behavioral Health, Exchange Club, Family Promise, Meals til Monday, Mental Health and Recovery Services of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties, North Central Ohio Solid Waste District, Partnership for Violence Free Families and United Way of Greater Lima.